As has been widely reported, the number of people finding sustained work through the Work Programme is a pitiful at just 2.3%. It is hard to overstate just how dreadful these performance figures are. Much of the media has pointed out that this misses the target of 5.5% and therefore the scheme is getting less people into work than simply doing nothing at all. But 5.5% was not the target, it was the minimum acceptable level providers needed to reach to ensure they kept their contracts.
Mark Hoban has claimed the private sector poverty pimps running the Work Programme are ‘on notice‘. Apparently warnings have been issued that if the figures do not improve then those companies performing poorly will lose contracts. Yet all of the providers are performing poorly and all should have lost their contracts according to yesterday’s figures.
When the Work Programme was announced the DWP claimed that 36% of participants would be placed into long term, sustainable employment. Whilst this percentage covered the full two years of the scheme, plus a year’s tracking period, it is clear that providers are nowhere near the real Work Programme target.
Even these targets are derisory. Ever since welfare-to-work parasites like A4e took over providing any help for unemployed people, the performance standards in the sector have been deliberately eroded.
Around the turn of the century Employment Service Programme Centres, many of which were run by charities, local authorities and community organisations, were expected to place 45% of participants into employment. This was a twelve week scheme which provided basic training and job search facilities and was a mix of both mandatory and non-mandatory contracts. The tracking period under which organisations could claim job outcomes after the provision ended was just 16 weeks. In 2001 Programme Centre Providers were achieving a 45% job outcome rate in just six months.
Around the same time Off the Streets and Into Work – an organisation which bid for Jobcentre and European money and then subcontracted to homelessness charities – was providing training and jobsearch for street homeless people. The target figures for those expected to find work was 10%, again in just six months. The client group included people with literacy problems, heavy drug and alcohol users, people who hadn’t worked for decades and those living on the streets. Four times as many homeless people were finding jobs under this scheme as the private sector are managing to place those without these difficulties into work on the Work Programme.
Many of the organisations who provided these services closed down when big money moved into the sector and muscled out the competition. As the welfare-to-work cartel gained control of ever increasing government funding, targets were steadily lowered, workfare and sanctions replaced genuine training and long time unemployment began a relentless climb upwards.
Now there is nowhere left for the DWP to go except leeches like A4e, G4S, Ingeus, Reed and Manpower. With government ministers now held firmly over a barrel by the welfare-to-work industry the most likely outcome of yesterday’s dismal news is that yet more tax payers cash is set to be shovelled in their direction.
ERSA, the body which represents the welfare-to-work racket, published their own figures yesterday claiming that 200,000 people had found work on the Work Programme. What the trade body didn’t make clear is that most of these jobs were short term. Some could even have represented just a couple of days work. There was a time when these would be considered job outcomes, a situation the welfare-to-work sector rather liked. Simply put, it’s far easier to cook the books by bullying someone off benefits (under threat of sanctions) into a couple of days agency work than it is to demonstrate sustained employment.
It is plain to see that ERSA are attempting to re-establish payments for any old job outcome, even if it means that the participants will be back on benefits within a fortnight.
By dangling these figures on the day of the Work Programme embarrassment they simply baited a trap that the inept Mark Hoban walked right into. The DWP is cheering ERSA’s figures in a crude attempt to hide the truth about the Work Programme. Expect more money for welfare-to-work parasites to be announced soon.
Not that Iain Duncan Smith will mind. His stupid Christian think tank, which came up with the Work Programme, is funded by the welfare-to-work sector after all.
Yesterday’s long awaited Work Programme figures were swiftly followed by today’s news that sick and disabled claimants are now to face workfare. This comes of top of the launch last week of the new Universal Jobmatch snooping system which is to be used to police how claimants look for jobs. It appears that the DWP is using the headlines generated by the Work Programme disaster to bury some of the most brutal and insidious aspects of welfare reform. They know doubt hope that tomorrow’s Leveson report will further keep welfare off the front pages whilst the Christmas break will dampen any ongoing resistance to the reforms. We must not let this happen.